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263 Ratings

Downhill Racer

Directed by Michael Ritchie
United States, 1969
Drama, Sport


A smug and overly self-assured downhill skier, David Chappellet (Robert Redford), joins the American ski team and quickly makes waves with his arrogant behavior and even flashier maneuvers on the slopes, falling into conflict with the team’s coach (Gene Hackman).

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Downhill Racer Directed by Michael Ritchie

Awards & Festivals

BAFTA Awards

1971 | Winner: Best Actor

Writers Guild of America

1970 | Nominee: Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen (Screen)

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

1969 | 2 runner-up prizes including: Best Actor

National Society of Film Critics Awards

1970 | 3rd place: Best Actor

[Redford] boldly divests himself of just about every quality that might make his character slightly appealing. In fact, he and Ritchie push the concept so far that they effectively render the movie inert.
December 02, 2015
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Redford ultimately holds Downhill Racer together with the performance of his career. The actor has served as the pinnacle of hunky liberal decency for so long now that it’s authentically surprising to revisit this film and watch as he so matter-of-factly fashions a hero of prickly, poignant self-absorption. Redford briefly revises his legend a bit, elegantly casting doubt on America’s insidious lone-hero mythology.
December 02, 2015
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Admirable as it is in its refusal of easy excitement, the film’s insistent ennui can also be a humorless drag; it’s tempting to imagine the sardonic games of one-upmanship original director Roman Polanski might have found in the story. All the same, in scenes such as the anti-hero’s visit to his resentful father, Downhill Racer stands as lean condemnation of the calculating underdog clichés Rocky would bring make the norm.
November 16, 2009
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